She’s Definitely Bleeding on the Ballroom Floor for the Attention

As I put on the finishing touches to my contemporary fantasy novel, a curious thing happened. I began to look back at my past works. They are a variety of short stories and children’s books. But there is also a YA fantasy novel that I have been querying for a while. I didn’t look back with judgment or criticism, but with a sort of appreciation of how far I’ve come. I usually do that, when I find it hard to focus.

When I first began writing, all I wanted to do was get published. I wanted an agent. I wanted a publishing deal. I wanted to sit at home all day and write. Sip wine while watching the sun set in the Bahamas. I wanted to go to book signings where there was a line out the door of people waiting to see me. I wanted all of it, but what I didn’t want, was to write.

Does that even make sense? I find that in anything we do, there is a sense of avoiding the hard work if possible. That isn’t a bad thing. If someone just gave you ten million dollars, no strings attached, you wouldn’t say “sorry, but I didn’t earn it. I didn’t work for it.”  You would take it, and run. Who wouldn’t? And there is no reason not to (it is ten million dollars after all).

The likelihood of that happening is slim, and so is a successful writing career, if you go into it with that mindset. I didn’t think my first book would be a best seller. I didn’t think I would be having tea with J.K. Rowling. What I did think was that it would be a little easier than it turned out to be.

It always seemed that no matter how hard I worked; it didn’t get easier. I felt that I wasn’t improving. That was until I looked back at my previous works. I studied them. I compared then to how I was writing now. I found that it was amazing how much I had improved, and a little guilty that I ever thought something like that could be publishable. Sometimes it can seem like your writing is just bleeding for attention. Maybe it is.

Here are four things I do to help stay focused in my writing career:

1.      KEEP WRITING: This should go without saying. Write, dammit. Just keep writing. When it hurts, when you’re sick. When you’re tired. Write. I don’t mean just write to write. Put something in that computer with substance. Even it is just an outline or a character sketch. I didn’t get better at typing on a keyboard because I took a class, or read a book. I got better at typing because I do it constantly.

2.      Don’t Be an Adverb Snob: One of the most important lessons I learned (no pun intended) was that you have to keep learning. Learn your craft. Learn how to express yourself in a way that captivates an audience. When you see an article on adverbs or adjectives, read it. You may learn something new. I have. I try and read every article possible so that I can understand my craft thoroughly.

3.      React to the Fire, not the Flames: This one may sound silly. React to what? React to everything that has to do with your writing. The big picture. The day you become blind to the suggestions and critiques around you, is the day your craft will start to whither and die. I know, that is really dramatic, but I am trying to paint a picture. Look at beta reading for example. They are either telling you that something needs improved, or doesn’t work. If you fail to see your own flaws, others will continue to point them out. Keep the big picture in sight. Don’t forget that all the little flames make up a fire. Don’t get distracted by too many tiny details and forget the big picture.

4.      Learn From the Past: Pull out those stories that you wrote years ago. Cringe. Drink. Scream. Do whatever you have to do to read them. The point is to learn from it. The point is to see where you have come from. When I look at my novel currently, I see nothing but problems with it. It can seem disheartening, and cause you to be unsure of your writing. I feel it isn’t as good as I want it to be. But when I look back at the trash that I used to write, it is abundantly clear that I am getting better. And it will be for you too.

So, go get that old story out of the trash and motivate yourself. Your story is only [ENTER SUBJECTIVE AMOUNT OF WORDS] from being completed.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                  

Musings with Katherine Coleman

The largest impact on my life as a writer has been the #writingcommunity. The biggest reason for this has nothing to do with the existence of a hashtag and everything to do with the people that breathe life into that hashtag. The people who make the community special, informative, and just fun to be a part of.

As I am constantly searching for new writers to interview, I am looking for those who make an impact in the writing community. Sure, you can have a million followers. You can even be a bestselling author, but do you give back? I recently put out a request for some feedback on the first chapter of my new WIP. I was blown away with the people who messaged me offering to give it a look.

That is what community is all about. Everyone helping each other to accomplish a overall goal shared individually by each of us. Katie is one of those people who bring inspiration to Twitter. Where coffee and Peaky Blinders are perfectly good reasons to follow someone, don’t forget about the big picture.

I can usually count on seeing her in my feed, which means that she is here to interact. She is so supportive of other writers, and contributes greatly to our #writingcommunity. There is way more to our lives that writing. We can all agree on that. Whether it is family or children. Work or school. We are all navigating our way through life the best we can.

In fact, not to long ago, she made a post about college advisement. Not writing. Not promotion of her own material. COLLEGE ADVISEMENT. I find it really amazing that she would offer advice when it comes to bettering yourself and your career.

Without further ado, Katie Coleman everyone.

Katherine (Katie) Coleman

@heytherekatie

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

“Mostly horror or thriller but I like to go wherever the wind blows me. ”

 

What books have you published? 

“Nothing published yet but look out for me in the future! ;) ”

 

What books are you currently writing? 

“Currently working on my first novel and a couple short stories. I can never work on only one project at a time. ”

 

What is your current writing status – Querying, indie publishing?

“First draft of novel, first draft of short story, and editing another short story. ”

 

How did you get into writing?

“I've enjoyed writing since I was a child (I was even weird enough to love doing school essays). My middle school teacher, Mr.Davis, helped turn my enjoyment into passion and that passion has been growing ever since. ”

 

What is your motivation to write? 

“I've always been a pessimist submitting to a fear of failure. When I realized how unhappy I was and how much I was holding myself back, I knew I had to change. My motivation is proving my old self wrong and making my future self proud. I might still be a bit pessimistic but I refuse to submit to my fear any longer. ”

 

What do you want to accomplish in your writing career? 

“I have many future business goals but my "I've made it" moment will be when someone tells me my writing has helped them. Books have been one of my saviors, my relief in times where life was kicking my butt. I want to give that to someone else. ”

 

Who is your favorite author? 

“Dean Koontz ”

 

What is your favorite food?

“Either steak, sushi, or pot roast. Plus gelato for dessert. Please don't make me choose just one.”

 

What is your favorite band?

“Twenty One Pilots and Pierce The Veil. ”

 

What is your second favorite color?

“Yellow.”

If you could go anywhere, real or imagined, where would you go? Why? 

“I had a very difficult time deciding on this one but may have to go with the Netherlands. I am currently learning Dutch and have a friend who lives over there.  Not to mention the incredible museums, festivals, architecture, and tulip fields. I intend to go sometime in the next few years and I may never want to leave. ”

 

If you had to choose a fictional world to live in forever, where would it be? 

“The wizarding world in the Harry Potter Series.”

What is something that we don’t already know about you? 

“My biggest bucket list goal is to swim with sharks (freely swim, no cage), I have a shrunken head hanging in my room, and I own a swimmable mermaid tail. ”

 

How can we get in touch with you?

Twitter: heytherekatie

Instagram: hey_there_katie

Email: katherine97coleman@gmail.com

If you aren’t following Katie, then you are missing out!

The Beta Lunacy Fridge

For me, after all of the nitpicking you go through, you’re probably going to feel that your manuscript has been violated. I mean, it was violated by you, so can it really be that bad? It really isn’t, but what comes next is.

Your manuscript is about to be violated by beta readers.

“Wait, what do you mean, Stephan? You mean that other people are going to be reading my book and critiquing it? They are going to be flipping through my well-crafted pages and telling what sucks and what is great?”

The simple truth is yes. And I will go one step further. You will hate it. Now, I know we all put on our big boy or big girl pants when we decided to be a writer. Our thesaurus is roaring and our imagination is burning. But I can tell you from firsthand experience, that a beta reader is going to bring out the worst in you.

You are going to find yourself second guessing your writing. You may feel that the beta reader is not understanding the story right. They may seem mean, or uncaring. But the thing you must realize is that if a beta reader can’t follow along or understand your story, then how will all of your readers?

You may find yourself going a bit insane, as hinted by the title.

Note: Every time I try to search Lunacy Fringe, I spell Fridge instead, and also because of copyright. For those of you wondering, it’s a song by The Used.

This isn’t a bad thing either. The point of a beta reader is to do several things including:

1.      Ensuring the hook pulls you into the story.

2.      Seeing if the characters develop.

3.      Pointing out Plot holes.

4.      Finding if the story holds interest.

5.      Helping clear up convoluted parts.

And this is not an all-inclusive list. There are many other things that a beta reader will do for you that you should appreciate. In the end, they are trying to help you write a novel that is the best version it can be.

When you write, you don’t see everything. Why? Because the things that you are doing, you have been doing for years. What happens when you have a habit? You do it without thinking about it. The same holds true for writing. This is why you need a fresh set of eyes on your manuscript.

Where can I find a beta reader?

1.      Family and Friends – This should be your first stop. You don’t have to search for them, or pay them (hopefully). And their critique may actually be softer than someone who doesn’t know you. You need the real deal, but starting off this way may be easier.

2.      Writing Community Members – The #writingcommunity is a community for a reason. I have been a part of many beta reads, and also many swap and reviews, and can say that this is a group who really care about each other. They want to see you succeed. @MegTrast even has a great site (Overhaul My Novel) for editing and beta readers.

3.      Goodreads Groups – Before Twitter, I found some great beta readers on Goodreads. Their groups are very specific and you can post your blurb in there and see if someone wants to pick it up to take it for a beta ride.

4.      Facebook Groups – Facebook is also a good source for writers and those in need of beta reading. I put it last because I found the first three way more helpful. All of these places are supportive, but I would look at them all before you make a decision.

And these are just a few. A simple search of the internet will help in finding other places to find beta readers and their invaluable service. The biggest tip that I can give you is to find someone who enjoys your genre. They will appreciate it, and be able to give more catered advice that someone who is unfamiliar.

Do you have a go to for your beta readers?

Musings with Serah Johnson

“I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

~ J. R. R. Tolkien

The great thing about Tolkien is that he was on to something here. Especially in the social media world today. Do you know everyone you are following? What about the ones following you? The chances that you know absolutely everyone is small.

AND THAT IS ALRIGHT!

You don’t need to be best friends with absolutely everyone. That is the amazing thing about groups such as the #writingcommunity. We all work together for the common goal of advice and support for our writing careers. I know for me, I would like to know a little more, and interact with some people who really capture the essence of what the writing community on Twitter is all about.

One such author is Serah Johnson (soon to be Brightside). Usually there is not a day that goes by where I don’t see that eye show up on my feed. There seems to always be someone commenting or sharing information from Serah. I think that is awesome, and it really shows what we can accomplish when we work together.

 

Serah Johnson

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

“YA, romance, and adventure.”

 

What books have you published? 

“I haven't published any books yet. I hope to start querying this summer.”

 

What books are you currently writing? 

“I am currently collaborating with Michael Brightside (@mibrightside on Twitter).”

 

What is your current writing status – Querying, indie publishing?

“I would have to say querying at the moment.”

 

How did you get into writing?

“My sixth-grade language arts teacher was the first person to take an interest in my writing. She told my parents I was destined to be an author. Several years later, I finally took her advice.”

 

What is your motivation to write? 

“My motivation to write is to help others. I hope each person that reads my books can take something special away from them.”

 

What do you want to accomplish in your writing career? 

“Being a “famous author” would be amazing. However, changing someone's life with my writing would have to be my biggest goal.”

 

Where do you currently write?

“When I am alone, I write in my bed. If my partner is with me, we write in our office.”

 

Who is your favorite author? 

“Nicholas Sparks”

 

What is your favorite food?

“Pizza”

 

What is your favorite band?

“Angels & Airwaves”

 

If you could go anywhere, real or imagined, where would you go? Why? 

“ I would love to visit Paris. I believe Paris would be a great inspiration for my romance novels.”

 

What is something that we don’t already know about you? 

“Along with being an author, mother, and girlfriend, I also work two jobs.”

 

How can we get in touch with you?

Twitter: @SerahJAuthor

Email: serahjauthor@yahoo.com

Also, make sure and head on over and congratulate Serah on her engagement!

 

Nitpicking Ninnymuggins

Oh man. It is time. Tax season is over, and I’m back. I’m unsure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but nevertheless, here I am. I believe we left off just after you were grudgingly deciding to go back through your novel and rewrite it so it makes sense. 

If you’re like me, there is a high likelihood that you aren’t going to rewrite every single line. I don’t feel that is necessary. I mean think of all the hard work you put into that beautiful, luscious manuscript. Don’t just throw her out with the trash. Love her. Cultivate her, and she will grow into the novel that you knew she could. 

Some of you may prefer to rewrite the entire thing, and that is alright also. It is always going to be completely up to you. Right now, you don’t have an editor. You don’t have an agent or a publisher. It’s just you and your crisp, yellowing parchment. Fine. This isn’t medieval times, so you probably have your laptop out instead. Your crisp, white high definition display may be more like it. 

It is in times like these that you may hate writing, but I assure you that everything you cut will be cut for a reason. Everything you add will be added for a reason. 

I fully understand that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into this novel, but regardless of how many times you change it, or who changes it, from here on out should be all about your reader. 

I repeat. FROM HERE ON OUT SHOULD BE ALL ABOUT YOUR READER. 

We all get it, because published or not, we’ve all had to deal with it from time to time. Your manuscript is perfect. I mean downright mainstream, referenced, baked on high for 33 minutes, and slightly browned to perfection on the edges.  

But his is no longer your book. It is your readers. You have become an author of the people. 

This is not to downplay your importance. I feel that this is something that many authors overlook. They don’t want to change their book, because it is their special work, and it is like a piece of themselves. I get that. I have spent countless hours writing, researching, pleading to the gods of literature. But in the end, you have to accept that the reason you are getting into the writing game is to accentuate your work. 

To whom you might ask?  

Your readers. They are the reason that you are writing. They are the reason you have your followers. They are the ones who are going to buy your book and give you amazing reviews so someone else can buy your book. 

I hope by now that you understand where I’m going with this. Does it really matter if John has black hair or red? To you, it may. But I feel like sometimes we miss the point of what we are doing. I love to go back to George Martin as an example. Not in a bad way, but just because it is a prominent thought in the world today. I finished the fifth book in A Song of Ice and Fire a few months ago. We’re talking about December of 2018. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the next one. But an interesting thing happened. I Did some research and found out that it came out in 2011. 

This means that some people have been waiting for eight years for the next book to come out. This does several things for me. One, it makes me feel good about my writing speed. I have always been a slow writer, and I felt like it has taken me way to long to churn out books. Two, it makes me feel a sense of urgency when I write. 

I’m sure there is a good reason for not finishing the series in a timely fashion. But at some point, you must realize that everything you are doing now is for your readers, not yourself. They’re the ones who are going to make you great. Your work is not worth anything if nobody ever gets to read it. 

Do nitpick a little. Cut a little. Add a little. If your agent or publisher wants you to change something, then consider it. The book is yours. You strung together thousands of words from your own heart and mind. Nobody is going to take that away from you, and nobody is changing it. They are simply helping you craft the raw materials that you have written into something even better. 

If your boss offered you a raise, you would take it. You wouldn’t say, “Now, hang on a moment. I like what I’m making now. Why would you try and change that when I’m used to it?” If you think about your writing in that fashion, then it almost becomes silly to think of not getting down and dirty with your manuscript.  

Make sure it is the best work you can write. Make sure it is the best version of yourself.